I have a new blog post over at Psych Central. I hope you will check it out:
If you have been following me for a while you will know that I have been trying to break out of mental health writing. Don’t get me wrong, I love mental health writing and all the positive things it can do by educating, raising awareness and saving lives. I love that stuff, but I have always wanted to be a writer. Just that, a writer. Not a woman with schizophrenia that writes. Please read my latest essay on Angels Flight literary west. It is about death, David Bowie, and how we mourn our losses. The title is The Extraordinary Ordinary Death. I hope you will read it and share it. It looks like I have made it to the title of, writer. I also have schizophrenia and will always write about that, but today, I am celebrating being an artist among other artists – disability or not.
I have a new essay, Bright Lights and Dark Corners: Images and Words. It is an interview with the artist, Richard McLean. Richard is a writer and visual artist. He also happens to suffer from schizophrenia. I think you will enjoy his work.
Last week I was contacted by Dr. Tracy McDonough from The Schizophrenia Oral History Project (TSOHP). She wanted to know if I was willing to tell my life story. She told me that I could talk about my illness, or I could talk about anything I wanted people to know about me. The interviews are then posted on their website for other people to hear. I agreed to do the interview.
The call (recorded) lasted for just over an hour. Tracy asked me very few questions (just to keep me talking) and told me before we started that I didn’t have to answer any of the questions I didn’t feel comfortable answering. During the whole process, Tracy was respectful and sensitive.
Of course, I started the interview out with, “I am someone’s baby.” I did this so everyone who listens to the recording would know I came into the world the same way they did – we all have a similar beginning. Isn’t it important to recognize each other’s humanity above all?
If you do end up contacting them, please let them know that you heard about their work from Rebecca. If you have schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, I hope you will consider participating in the project. Our stories, our real life experiences, our ups and downs and all around are what help to combat the stigma. As I so often say, “We are more like you than different.” It is an important message and one I hope you will share with others about your life.
My latest blog post on Psych Central. You can read it here.
I hope you will check out my latest essay in the series, Bright Lights and Dark Corners.
This week’s essay is Bright Lights and Dark Corners: What we Carry.
The essay is about the 427 suitcases taken from Willard Psychiatric Center in the 90’s. The essay has links so you can find out more about the owners of the suitcases and their lives.
I try to ask my eighteen-year-old niece what it is like being a young woman studying biochemistry. She has no complaints. I try to engage her about being a woman in a traditionally male field, but she doesn’t see it that way. My niece is voting for Bernie Sanders. Most of the people I love are voting for Bernie, but I am voting for Hillary, and the reason is baseball.
At nine years old, I had three older brothers and a mother who worked full time. Our neighbors, an older couple, who lived across the street and down a few houses, treated me with kindness and went out of their way to spend time with me.
Mr. Carlson worked for the Department of Fish and Game, and he would bring me eggs from all kinds of birds. He would meticulously label them for me, much like my grandfather labeled rocks for me, and I had an impressive collection. My favorite was an ostrich egg because it was so big, but I didn’t pick it up often, afraid as I was of dropping it and having whatever was inside splatter all over the floor, and possibly, me.
Mrs. Carlson would invite me to their house and ask me to do her hair. She would allow me to put hot rollers in it and comb through the thin curls after they had “set.” While the rollers were doing their thing, I would look at Mrs. Carlson’s bell collection. She had hundreds of bells all lined up on shelves throughout her living room.
One day while I was styling Mrs. Carlson’s hair I told her my one dream was to play baseball. I wasn’t the kind of girl who dreamed of my future wedding, or going to Disneyland or being a princess. I wanted to play baseball like my older brothers even though it meant I would be the first girl in our town to play little league.
Mrs. Carlson laughed when I told her my dream was to be on a little league team. She told me that no girl who loved her would ever play baseball. It wasn’t something that girls do.
I had never given voice to my dream before that day, and I never would again. Silently and despondently I put the dream of baseball behind me.
Not too long after that, my mom got married, and we moved to another town. I would occasionally take out my baseball mitt and play catch with my new step brothers, or my biological brothers or neighborhood kids.
As I grew older, I never replaced the dream of being a baseball player. I wasn’t particularly passionate about anything.
When Hillary Clinton gets up to bat this November she is going to knock that ball out of the park and rather than be on the sidelines as a cheerleader, I am going to grab my mitt, get on the field and play whatever position I want.
That’s the way we do it now, Mrs. Carlson. Girls can finally do anything they want, baseball included.
I hope you will pop over to Psych Central and read my latest blog post. It is about the changing climate of social media and how that impacts how I view myself and my illness.
It is here: http://goo.gl/jmSXLk
Please check out my introductory essay for my new series on Drunken Boat. The series will cover mental illness in art.
The title is, Bright Lights and Dark Corners